The public’s overwhelming preference for “high quality” Covid19 vaccines manufactured by the West was put on stark display last week as many thousands – throwing all caution to the wind – flocked to select vaccination sites in Metro Manila, which had advertised that these were available, hoping to get dosed with them.
Published news photos and TV screen grabs showed huge crowds patiently lining up in vaccination centers in Manila and Paranaque City (even if they had no scheduled appointment in hand) praying they might get injected with the prized Pfizer vaccine – and to hell with social distancing and other long-established health protocols.
The occurrence of these virus superspreader events resulted in the intervention of the highest authorities who promptly ordered local government units not to disclose in advance the vaccine brands to be administered.
But this move was immediately slammed by several Metro mayors, including Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco who said people have the right to know in advance what vaccine brand they are being given.
He chirped that this lack of transparency on the part of officials is the reason behind the vaccine hesitancy plaguing millions which in turn is causing the glacial pace of the national vaccination campaign – in spite of its vow to achieve herd immunity by the yearend.
Tiangco’s opinion is aligned with the position taken byhealth expert Dr. Albert Domingo who was quoted as saying this planned move by the DOH is questionable as it violates of the principle of informed consent. He stressed the DOH must respect patient autonomy.
This is most definitely a stinging slap in the face for National Covid Task Force (IATF) officials who had been traipsing all over the archipelago constantly urging people not to be “choosy” and to take the vaccine that’s in front of them.
One IATF factotum was even credited with coining the message “the best vaccine is the one inside your arm” that was meant to convince people to get dosed – to no avail.
Truth be told, Filipinos’ preference for the Pfizer vaccine (over the Chinese-made Sinovac) is based on the data and science, because exhaustive clinical trials revealed it had an extremely high efficacy rate of about 95 percent.
This pales in comparison with Sinovac (branded: CoronaVac) which is the vaccine-of-choice of the Palace and is being rabidly promoted by Malacanang that has an efficacy rate of about 51 percent per testing of Brazil’s Butantan Institute.
Although a BBC report said last January 2021 that Sinovac’s saving grace is its alleged 78-percent efficacy rating in mild-to-severe Covid19 cases.
On the other hand, Turkish researchers have found Sinovac to possess an 91.25 percent efficacy rate, while Indonesia said it is 65.3 percent effective.
Aside from the Philippines that has a standing order for 25 million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac, other countries that have lined up for China’s jab are Singapore, Turkey and Indonesia.
Of course it didn’t help any that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last February issued a warning for Sinovac vaccine NOT to be administered to senior citizens, only to go back on its word after two months in April citing vague reasons.
The case against the Chinese vaccine was further denigrated after Davao City, the hometown of President Duterte, was reported on ANC News to have rejected the “don’t be choosy” mantra of the government in opting to purchase Pfizer vaccines over the Malacanang-favored Sinovac brand.
Then of course there was this much publicized event in Malacanang Palace where Mr. Duterte allowed himself recently to be vaccinated with allegedly smuggled Sinopharm vaccine that didn’t have the required Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the (FDA).
But while Sinovac can’t really compete with Pfizer and Moderna’s 95 percent efficacy rating, noted physicians have said many vaccines are needed to fight Covid globally, and there will be those which will perform much better than others.
But vaccinating as many people as possible for protection against the virus within the soonest time remains the absolute priority.
PHOTO: ABS-CBN News